The Dallas leg of the series has come to a close and Cooper Webb has convincingly seized control of confidence and momentum. Ken seems unfazed by his slip of the points lead and control of the series and this is perplexing to me. It’s probably a little perplexing to every body other than Ken and his wife, honestly.
I have no doubt that Ken is showing us his true feelings on these positive and ironically cheery podium speeches but we’re certainly not used to it. Chad Reed used to do a version of this, you know where he would speak on the podium after a pretty demoralizing loss to Stew and maintain the confident persona with an eye on the next week where he felt he would get the better of the 7. Let’s be honest, he often did due to a Stew error so that confidence was not false. With Ken though right now, he adds this confusing cheery-ness to his podium talk. It’s quite possibly more cheery than if he had actually won the race. A little less energy and exuberance but a little more “awe shucks, what a night!”. Bizarre in that we don’t often see this but admirable in it’s honesty.
I think Ken is operating on a different perspective plane that the other racers and us as a fanbase are accustomed to. His horrific crashes and nearly career ending injury, followed by another arm injury that was also pretty serious, then follow that with his immune issues and an inability to recover or maintain over the course of a series; to make it beyond the halfway point of the series and still be leading races, albeit not winning them right now, has to be looked at as a positive. It’s also very clear that Ken has found a ton of fulfillment in being a Dad. We’re not used to seeing racers so willing to allow their results to play second fiddle to the joy of homelife but from the outside, it kinda looks that way.
Ken isn’t any less serious about his commitment or effort, he is just less attitude-dependent on the results. That’s a strong life approach but it’s weird for us to witness.
Cooper is a bulldog, he’s always had that “second-fiddle” bitterness in the back of his head, Ken has always been the prodigy in high demand. I think this is what makes this title run for Cooper such a slam dunk. He will do whatever it takes to take a position, Ken on the other hand really seems to care about “racing the right way”. Eli who is oddly “typical Eli” again, is pretty far back in the points and comes across as completely void of passion for racing these days, seems even less interested in any heightened risk to seize victory. It sounds crazy to say that about any of these guys with the risk and effort it takes at this level but it genuinely seems that way to me and it wasn’t always that way. I feel like this Eli switch came with the move to Kawasaki pretty early on. Perhaps it was the nasty taste right off the bat when the team was still beating into their riders heads that the RV setup was proven and that’s all that was needed for anyone to win on? If Eli doesn’t retire at the end of his Kawi deal, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him, on whatever team, with a renewed demeanor and that passion for racing return on some level.
We now enter a two week hiatus and that could not work out better for Cooper Webb. He’s coming off a 3-race win streak and the clearly dominant contender. Kenny also needs this break to possibly get a little necessary recovery. Perhaps his summer off wasn’t everything he needed to be fully prepared for these 3-race sets the 2021 calendar has mapped out for the series?
It will be nice to see Zach-O and AC back after this little break unless you are Cade Clason, Alex Ray or Justin Starling. The LCQ’s are about to get super-duper gnarly again!